Furious, nervous and disappointed: Tesla workers don’t like Elon Musk’s strict return-to-office policy

According to reports, Tesla still lacks the physical space and financial resources necessary to bring all of its employees back to the office more than three months after Elon Musk issued his order to do so. The corporation now keeps track of its employees’ attendance, and CEO Elon Musk and other corporate officials receive weekly reports with extensive details on absence.

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In June, the company let go of several employees who had been recognized as telecommuters in the past but who reported that they were unable to reposition themselves in a way that would allow them to meet the conditions to return to the office.

Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of Tesla, instituted a stringent back-to-the-office policy this spring. On May 31, he informed staff unexpectedly through an email that they would be required to “spend a minimum of forty hours per week in the office.” His explanation for everything else was that it was just “calling on the phone.”


In addition to the fact that there is not enough space or resources available to meet Musk’s demands to bring employees back to their offices, the back-to-office policy has also caused a drop in morale, particularly among teams that previously allowed employees to work remotely on an as-needed basis. Covid-19.

Even before the pandemic, Tesla was generally willing to allow employees in office roles the option of working from home. In recent years, the staff at the company has increased, and as a result, the primary focus has been on constructing international hubs and a new plant in the state of Texas. It did not create enough new workspaces or buy enough office equipment at the existing locations in Nevada and California in order to bring all of the office workers and long-term contractors into compliance with the forty-hour work week.

According to numerous persons who are currently employed there, Tesla recently desired to send its employees from the San Francisco Bay Area into the office three days a week; however, the company was unable to do so due to a shortage of seats, desk space, parking places, and other resources. Instead, Tesla limited the number of hectic days in the office to to two each week.

There is a shortage, and even relatively common supplies like WiFi plugs and charging cables have been hard to come by recently. Because Tesla has never built enough conference rooms and payphones to handle so many employees at the same time, crowded conditions arise on days when more employees are planned to work at the location. As a result, people are forced to make calls outside.

The corporation now keeps track of staff attendance, and Elon Musk receives weekly reports with extensive details on those who miss work.

According to records kept internally, around one-eighth of Tesla’s employees in Fremont, California, the location of the company’s first vehicle assembly factory in the United States, was absent from their desks at the beginning of September. On an average workday, around 10 percent of Tesla’s workforce was away from work, which was only a marginal improvement over the previous figure. According to internal reports that CNBC has seen, absentee levels have been in that range since March 2022, before Musk’s edict.


According to internal documents and persons who are aware with the reports submitted to Musk, absenteeism at Tesla is evaluated using data from workers who tag in at facilities. Unscheduled absences are split by planned time off to get daily totals.

According to internal texts seen by CNBC, a number of workers saw a considerable decrease in their morale as a direct result of the back-to-office policy, which was both vague and informal. Before the constraints imposed by Covid-19, Tesla management had a general understanding of the ways in which working remotely suited their teams. However, certain CEOs may still be able to contract out “special” workers despite Musk’s strict policy, which eliminates such discretion in theory.

At the beginning of June 2022, shortly after Musk demanded that everyone work onsite for forty hours per week, Tesla made a significant reduction in the number of employees. Tesla gave workers who had been designated as telecommuters in the past but were unable to relocate to be in the office 40 hours a week until September 30 to either relocate or take severance from the company.

Around a week after making that offer internally, Tesla HR contacted individuals who lived a significant distance away and inquired about their intentions to relocate and work in a Tesla office for a minimum of 40 hours per week. According to internal correspondence read by CNBC and two people directly familiar with the termination, some of those who said they weren’t sure if they could move or who said they definitely couldn’t were let go in June without any warning. Those who said they definitely couldn’t move were told they were fired.

As a result of the approach, Tesla has lost part of its ability to attract and keep the very best employees. According to internal communication and two resignations that were confirmed by CNBC, at least a couple of the company’s preferred employees resigned because they desired more flexible working conditions. According to a statement made by an employee to CNBC, certain personnel who were previously required to live a significant distance from Tesla’s workplace are now required to live several hours away from their family.

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